As the clock strikes 8 o'clock in the evening -- the final chimes to be heard until 6 the next morning -- all is calm on the University of Texas campus.
You might see the occasional squirrel.
Sometimes, a musical group may gather to break the silence.
And every now and then, you might just spot Jim Nicar returning
to the "40 Acres."
On June 10, he was back for his 427th Moonlight Prowl, a special tour of the campus.
He was asked to lead the first prowl for provisional summer students when he was a tour guide for the admissions office back in 1988.
"It was a complete accident," Nicar remembered. "I was a student at the time."
But it's no accident that about 100 people showed up to meet Nicar on the most recent prowl. After all, he's the director of the UT Heritage Society at the Texas Exes.
Nicar likes to say that more than 26,000 prowlers have "survived" his tour over the years. In fact, one year more than 600 showed up to prowl.
"Police showed up and thought it was a protest march," he laughed. "No, it's just a tour, but it just sort of continued on."
It has continued for more than 20 years now.
And this is not your typical campus tour. There's no advice on how to be on time for class when you're on one side of campus and need to get to the other. That's a scheduling issue.
No, this is a safari into the burnt orange unknown, or at least, the little known.
You may think Bevo the steer was UT's first mascot, but it was really a dog called Pig Belmont.
Keep prowling and learn that burnt orange wasn't always the
color of choice around here -- yellow, blue, and yes, even maroon
were used at one point.
Even the Hook 'em Horns hand sign wasn't the sanctioned salute you might think.
There's not enough time to give all the answers here. The best way is to take the prowl with Nicar for yourself, just like it was during that first tour.
"We picked out some fun stories, things that we knew would be fun to tell them, and went out in June of 1988 and had such a
great time with them. I mean, they just loved it," he said.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this tour, is that Nicar does this on his own. It's a sanctioned hobby of sorts. You can't put a price tag on a prowl.
And while there's no pop quiz at the end, there is an expectation.
"That they're a little more connected to the university," he said. "It's not quite such a big, mysterious and impersonal
For Nicar, that's the most important secret revealed.
If you'd like to go on a Moonlight Prowl, just head to the UT
Web site: www.utexas.edu/tour/prowl for more information.
The next prowl is set for Friday, Aug. 28.